7 Steps to Finding the Perfect Senior Living Community
There are some wonderful options for seniors today! It’s not like it used to be. Fifty years or more ago, it was a “one-size fits all” mentality in the world of senior care. And nobody liked the “old folks home”. But now, there are lots of different options, many of which are so nice that adult children often exclaim, “I would love to live here!”
But with hundreds of options in most areas, finding the best senior living options for your loved one, or for yourself, has become a project, one that is similar in many ways to shopping for a house. The good news is that we can make that process much easier.
Here are seven steps to take, and some additional resources to help:
1. Speak to a Family Advisor
This is a free service we offer to seniors and their families. Our Family Advisors are trained experts in senior care and have the resources to do an in-depth search of senior living communities in every area of the country. If you have not yet spoken to a Family Advisor, Click Here, or call (866) 824-8174
2. Decide on a Care Level
These days, there are many different “Levels of Care” available, ranging from Independent Living Communities for active seniors, to Assisted Living Communities with varying degrees of care available, to communities that specialize in Memory Care, and much more. Within each of these levels of care, there are varying types of communities and amenities available. One of the first things a Family Advisor will do is ask you some questions to determine the right level of care for your loved one, or yourself.
3. Decide on a Price Point
As you can imagine, senior living comes in all different prices, from very affordable, to very high-end. It is critical that you establish a price point that is based on your available resources. Again, here’s where a Family Advisor can help tremendously. They can help you to explore all of the potential sources of money to pay for senior living, including:
- Veterans Benefits
- Long-term care insurance
- Social security
- Pensions, annuities, and other retirement income
- Real estate assets that can be sold or leveraged
- Other assets that can be sold or leveraged
- Life insurance
- Family Contributions
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Local government programs
- And more.
4. Create a List of Potential Matches in the Target Area(s)
Nest, you need to build a list of communities that have the right care level and amenities, at the right price point, and in the right locations. Our Family Advisors will build this list for you and then email it to you, complete with pictures, features and amenities, consumer reviews, prices, and more.
5. Tour the Top Four or Five, or Until You Find the Right One
The next step is to contact and visit each community. There’s no substitute for touring. You have to see the environment first-hand; experience the atmosphere; enjoy the amenities; taste the food; smell the air; relax in the rooms and in the common areas; meet the staff and the residents; and visualize what it will be like to live there. It’s no different than buying a home. Would you buy a home without going to see it? Besides, touring homes can be fun, and touring senior living communities is no different. Our Family Advisors can also assist here, because they have the ability to book tour times at most of the communities in the country. To get the help of a Family Advisor to book your tours, Click Here, or call (866) 824-8174
6. Ask the Right Questions While on Tour
While visiting communities, it’s obviously important get the information you need most to make a good decision. To assist you, we have created three checklists that you can download and use before, during, and after your visits. Click Here (https://www.caring.com/senior-living/assisted-living/choosing-a-facility/#what-to-look-for-and-ask-during-your-search) to access them. We hope that you find these checklists to be valuable resources in your search for the right senior living option.
7. Select the Best Option
Finally, after touring several communities, it’s time to decide. Get help from a Family Advisor, do your homework, visit communities, ask the right questions, and then go with your gut. If you’ve gotten help and done the research, your instincts will guide you to the right community. So decide!
How long should it take?
That is completely up to you! We routinely help people to find the prefect option for them and then move within a week or two. Other times, family take months to find the right environments. If done in a thoughtful way, there is not timeframe that is not good.
But beware of prolonging the decision purely out of procrastination! We know it’s a scary decision, but when people procrastinate, it often leaves them in bad way. Eventually, an emergency will often force families to make the move quickly. When this happens, people often wind up in an environment they do not like because all of the most desirable options were full and they had not placed themselves on the waiting list; or because they do not have their finances in order; or because there was no time to tour and choose the best communities.
Take action now to complete these seven steps as soon as possible. When you do, options open up to move at right time, to the right place.
Additional steps for some:
Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to do the follow:
- Meet with an Elder Law Attorney to prepare the appropriate documents. These are attorneys that specialize in helping families to handle the legal requirements of aging and/or the preparation of documents useful for end-of-life care.
- Sell or leverage the home. If there is currently home or property ownership, there are many ways to use the equity to help with senior living and senior care expenses. Click Here for a list of partners that specialize helping seniors to get the most out of their most valuable asset.
- Get help with the move. Downsizing, de-cluttering, selling or disposing of unwanted items, packing, moving, and storing are all tedious activities better handled by a team of experts. There are companies that specialize in helping seniors to do this.
- Apply for and receive veteran’s benefits. If you or your loved one served in the military, or if you, or they, were married to someone who did, you should speak to a veteran’s benefit consultant. There are some little-known programs that can pay as much as $1800 or more per month for senior care. If eligible, the application and approval process can take awhile, but is well worth pursuing.
- Plan for Medicaid Application. If there’s a chance of outliving the available assets, you may need to qualify for Medicaid at some point in the future. The time to plan for that is now. Start talking to a Medicaid consultant, long before the money is gone.